It’s official: Lorde is a superhero. When the singer broke out as a precocious 16-year-old on the strength of her debut album Pure Heroine, which was at once a critical darling and a chart-topping juggernaut, we had a sneaking suspicion that her prodigious talent was the product of some kind of fortuitous mishap. Maybe she was bitten by a radioactive pop star? Or perhaps she was caught in a blast of gamma radiation? Or is she really Randy from South Park? How else could we explain that kind of talent at such a young age?
Lo and behold, in a new Rolling Stone cover story, Lorde does indeed confirm that her otherworldly talent is the product of a neurological condition called synesthesia. While it doesn’t give her the ability to fly or punch through walls with her bare fist, it does let her see songs as colors and textures. And much in the same way Alfred helped guide Bruce Wayne, Lorde’s civil-engineer father and poet-laureate mother nurtured her gifts by giving her an “overwhelming sensory experience of the world.”
If Lorde ever feels alienated—as superheroes often do—she’ll be happy to know she’s not alone. Lady Gaga has synesthesia. Beyoncé does, too. Even Kanye West claims that his wires are crossed in such a way that he can feel colors and taste shapes. In fact, some of the greatest artists throughout history, from Duke Wellington to Pharrell Williams, have been synesthetes. And based on what we’ve heard from her upcoming album Melodrama, Lorde is on her way to joining their ranks.
Read her new Rolling Stone cover story here, and be sure to cop Meldodrama when it’s unleashed on June 16.